Microsoft announced that longtime Chief Executive Steve Ballmer will retire within the next 12 months.
The 57 year old Ballmer will stay on until a new CEO is chosen. Microsoft’s board has appointed a special committee to find Ballmer’s successor. Microsoft founded Bill Gates is part of the committee.
Ballmer’s legacy at Microsoft is mixed bag – at best. He has endured criticism for years that the software giant was slow to adapt – and invariably late to the party on the innovations of the last decade. From mobile devices, social media, Internet services, tablets and more, Microsoft has fallen behind companies such as Apple, Google and Facebook.
Microsoft continues to be a wildly successful company, primarily due to its dominance in the workplace with products such as Office. Also, Microsoft’s Xbox gaming console has been a leader in the market (although Microsoft has been criticized for losing money on the product for years).
Analysts believe there is no single person who is the front runner to succeed Ballmer. Whoever it is will have a challenge. Microsoft is a massive company with established divisions. Turf wars are likely. But critics of Microsoft feel the tech giant should look for someone who has more vision than Ballmer ever displayed. Microsoft has the cash and resources to do just about anything it wants. The key is finding a person who can actually articulate a clear vision for the company’s future.
Alex has written for Vanity Fair, Barrons, Bloomberg and Condé Nast Traveler.